EVAN SEAL / THE LEADER Leanne Husdon Hopkins (front) along with other residents in her Fleetwood neighbourhood near 78 Avenue and 156-168 Streets

Taking a stand against a new trail

Fleetwood residents worry a greenway path will increase crime in the area.

The quiet greenspace beside her home is about to change into a thoroughfare of bicycles, partiers and criminals looking for property to steal, she fears.

Fleetwood resident Leanne Husdon Hopkins says her neighbourhood already has its share of crime and thinks it’s only going to get worse if the city forges ahead with the Fleetwood leg of its greenway plan.

For Husdon Hopkins, it will mean a multi-purpose pathway, which is planned along 78 Avenue from about 156 to 168 Streets, will brush right up against the side of her home.

What was once a quiet FortisBC right-of-way will now be a freeway of foot traffic and cyclists, she says.

Husdon Hopkins was initially told it would be a bike path, but the proposal has now expanded it into a multi-purpose pathway.

She’s talked with people who live further away where a greenway already exists, and they painted an ugly picture of what’s heading her way.

“Their fences get kicked in, they get spray painted, they have drug use going on down there, they’re not policed,” Husdon Hopkins said Tuesday.

She is in contact with about 45 homeowners along the proposed greenway and says the city is in for a fight if it forges ahead.

Surrey held a public consultation meeting at the Fleetwood Recreation Centre in December last year as it planned to move forward, but decided to hold off on the work after several concerns were raised by residents, according to Surrey’s manager of transportation Jaime Boan.

Husdon Hopkins says some of the concerns could be mitigated by placing some hedging or plants between her home and the pathway.

However, Boan says a hedge, if it grows high enough, could be create cover for the very activity Husdon Hopkins is trying to avoid.

As for dropping the Fleetwood leg of the greenway plan completely, Boan says that’s not a preferable way to go.

If that occurred, people using the greenway, including cyclists, would have to detour to 80 Avenue for a stretch, which wouldn’t be as desirable – or safe – for users, Boan says.

The Fleetwood pathway is one small portion of a large greenway master plan which will connect parks and greenspaces with pathways throughout the city.

The city has already built 75 kilometres of the 350 kms of planned greenways throughout Surrey. The city is currently constructing the connectors at a rate of about four kilometres per year.

The Fleetwood link will connect with the Surrey Lake Greenway at 156 Street and the Coast Meridian Greenway along 168 Street.

Another community consultation meeting is being scheduled for Nov. 15 from 6-8 p.m. at William Watson Elementary School, 16450 80 Ave.

kdiakiw@surreyleader.com

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